Dame Elish Angiolini QC has been appointed to lead a major review into deaths in police custody.
She was appointed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who explained her choice in a written ministerial statement: “I said that the chairman would be someone with the ability to work closely with victims, families and the police alike, and with a proven track record of being willing to ask difficult questions.
“Dame Elish has all of these qualities.
“She was installed as Solicitor General for Scotland on December 5 2001, and Lord Advocate on October 12 2006.
“Since September 2012 she has been Principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford.
“In June 2015, she concluded an independent review for the Metropolitan Police Service into how they and the Crown Prosecution Service investigate and prosecute rape cases.
“I am grateful to Dame Elish for agreeing to take on this important work.”
Ms May said serious incidents and deaths in police custody were rare and that “they are a tragedy that has the potential to undermine the relationship between the public and the police”.
She said: “As Home Secretary, I have been struck by the pain and suffering of families still looking for answers.
“That is why I believe we need to do more, and why I announced the establishment of this Independent Review.”
The review will look at the procedures and processes surrounding deaths and serious incidents which occur in police custody and the extent to which ethnicity is a factor.
It will also look at the reasons the current investigation system is “falling short” of families’ expectations and will make recommendations “seeking to ensure appropriate, humane institutional treatment”.
She added that ultimately the review’s aim should be to “enhance the safety of the police custody setting for all”.
The charity INQUEST will be formally involved in the review to “ensure that the voices of families who have lost loved ones in police custody are heard”.